Change search
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf
Teaching genetics in secondary classrooms: a linguistic analysis of teachers’ talk about proteins
Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences. (SMEER)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9629-0951
Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences. (SMEER)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8735-2102
2014 (English)In: Research in science education, ISSN 0157-244X, E-ISSN 1573-1898, Vol. 44, no 1, p. 81-108Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study investigates Swedish biology teachers’ inclusion of proteins when teaching genetics in grade nine (students 15-16 years old). For some years there has been a call for the attention of proteins in teaching genetics as a mean of linking the concepts gene and trait. Students are known to have problems with this relation because the concepts belong to different organizational levels. However, we know little about how the topic is taught in the classroom and therefore this case study focus on how four teachers talk about proteins while teaching genetics, and if they use protein as a link between micro and macro level. The four teachers were observed and audio recorded during entire genetics teaching sequences, 45 lessons in total. The teachers’ verbal communication was then analyzed using thematic pattern analysis, which is based in systemic functional linguistics (SFL). The linguistic analysis of teachers’ talk in action revealed great variations in both the extent to which they used proteins in explanations of genetics and the ways they included proteins in the linkage between genes and traits. Two of the teachers used protein as a link between gene and trait, while two did not. Three of the four teachers included instruction about protein synthesis. The common message for all teachers was that proteins are built, but none of the teachers talked about genes as exclusively encoding proteins. Our results show some possible examples of how proteins could be used in teaching genetics at this age level. However, they also suggest that students’ common lack of understanding of proteins as an intermediate link between gene and trait could be explained by shortcomings in the way the subject is taught.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 44, no 1, p. 81-108
Keywords [en]
science education, teaching genetics, systemic functional linguistics, compulsory school, proteins, micro-macro
Keywords [sv]
biologididaktik, genetikundervisning, systemisk funktionell lingvistik, grundskolan, proteiner, mikro-makro
National Category
Didactics Biological Sciences
Research subject
Biology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-15226DOI: 10.1007/s11165-013-9375-9ISI: 000330984400004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-15226DiVA, id: diva2:561445
Funder
Hasselblad Foundation
Note

I den ena författarens licentiatuppsats ingår denna artikel i manuskriptform.

Available from: 2012-10-18 Created: 2012-10-18 Last updated: 2018-06-04Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Teaching genetics - a linguistic challenge: A classroom study of secondary teachers' talk about genes, traits and proteins
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Teaching genetics - a linguistic challenge: A classroom study of secondary teachers' talk about genes, traits and proteins
2012 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The overall aim of this thesis is to investigate how teachers talk about genetics in actual classroom situations. An understanding of how language is used in action can give detailed information about how the subject matter is presented to the students as well as insights in linguistic challenges. From the viewpoint of seeing language to be at the very core of teaching and learning, this study investigates teachers’ spoken language in the classroom in topics within genetics that are known to be both crucial and problematic. Four lower secondary school teachers in compulsory school grade 9 (15-16 years old) were observed and recorded through a whole sequence of genetic teaching. The empirical data consisted of 45 recorded lessons. The teachers’ verbal communication was analyzed using thematic pattern analysis, which is based on the framework of systemic functional linguistics (SFL). The focus of the thesis is to determine how teachers talk about the relationships between the concepts of gene, protein and trait, i.e. the functional aspects of genetics. Prior research suggests that this is a central aspect of genetics education, but at the same time it is problematic for students to understand because the concepts belong to different organizational levels. In the first study I investigated how the concepts of gene and trait were related in the context of Mendelian genetics. My results revealed that the teachers’ way of talking resulted in different meanings regarding the relationship between gene and trait: 1) the gene as an active entity causing the trait 2) the gene as a passive entity identified by the trait 3) the gene as having the trait, and 4) the gene as being the trait. Moreover it was found that the old term anlag was regularly used by the teachers as synonym for both gene and trait. In the second study I examined how teachers included proteins in their lessons, and if and how they discussed proteins as a link between different organizational levels. This study showed that teachers commonly did not emphasize the many functions of proteins in our body. The main message of all teachers was that proteins are built. Two of the teachers used proteins as a link between gene and trait, whereas two of them did not. None of the teachers talked explicitly about genes as exclusively coding for proteins, which implies that the gene codes for both proteins and traits. The linguistic analysis of teachers’ talk in action revealed that small nuances in language used by the teachers resulted in different meanings of the spoken language. Thus, my work identifies several linguistic challenges in the teaching of genetics.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstads universitet, 2012. p. 52
Series
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2012:50
Keywords
Science education, teaching genetics, teachers' talk, mendelian genetics, gene function, systemic functional linguistics, compulsory school
National Category
Educational Sciences Biological Sciences
Research subject
Biology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-15311 (URN)978-91-7063-461-1 (ISBN)
Presentation
2012-12-07, Frödingsalen, 1 B364, Karlstads universitet, Universitetsgatan 2, Karlstad, 15:35 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Hasselblad Foundation
Note

This thesis is written within the framework of the Hasselblad Foundation Graduate School, a four-year programme financed by the Hasselblad Foundation.

Available from: 2012-11-19 Created: 2012-10-23 Last updated: 2018-04-24Bibliographically approved
2. Linguistic Challenges in Science Education: A Classroom Study of Teachers’ and Students’ use of Central Concepts in Genetics
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Linguistic Challenges in Science Education: A Classroom Study of Teachers’ and Students’ use of Central Concepts in Genetics
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines linguistic aspects of genetics education and is based on the view that language is an essential dimension of teaching and learning. Its objective is to clarify how teachers and students use genetics concepts in real teaching situations. By studying the spoken language used in lessons, I explore how teachers present the subject and the opportunities students have to learn to use the specific language of genetics. These explorations help explain why genetics is such a challenging topic to teach and learn, as shown by previous studies. My study is based on observations and recordings of genetics lessons for grade nine students, i.e. students in the final year of compulsory education in the Swedish school system. Four classes were followed as they progressed through the genetics unit. The corpus was analyzed with different linguistic methods to reveal patterns in the way teachers use and interrelate core concepts such as gene, DNA and chromosome, how they connect the concepts of gene and trait, and how students are involved in dialogue about core genetics concepts. Teachers were found to use genetics concepts with varying meanings and interrelated words in many different ways, resulting in an ambiguous and inconsistent communication of the genetics content in the classroom. The students used the genetics concepts much less frequently than the teachers, and mainly used them in short sentences. This suggests that current teaching practices do not give students enough opportunities to develop the language of genetics. My results demonstrate several aspects of classroom talk that could contribute to the learning difficulties associated with genetics. It will be important to take these aspects into account when seeking to improve the teaching of this subject.

Abstract [en]

This thesis centers on linguistic aspects of genetics education. The aim is to contribute to the understanding of how teachers present genetics content in the classroom and what opportunities students have to learn to use the specific language of genetics. It may also provide insights into why genetics is such a challenging topic to teach and learn. The study is based on observations and recordings of genetics lessons in the final year of compulsory education. A corpus of 45 genetics lessons was analyzed with different analytical lenses to reveal how teachers and student use core concepts. Findings show that the teachers used genetics concepts with varying meanings and interrelated words in many different ways, which results in an ambivalent and inconsistent communication of genetics content in the classroom. The students use central genetics concepts to a much lesser degree than do the teachers and mainly in short sentences which indicates that the students are not given the opportunities to develop the language of genetics. The results show several aspects of classroom talk that might contribute to the learning difficulties that previously have been reported in the genetic education literature. These are important to consider in future efforts to improve genetics teaching.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstads universitet, 2018
Series
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2018:22
Keywords
Classroom study; Classroom talk; Genetics education; Genetics concepts; Scientific language;Secondary school; Systemic Functional Linguistics; Thematic pattern analysis
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Biology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-67141 (URN)978-91-7063-855-8 (ISBN)978-91-7063-950-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-06-08, 11D121, Karlstads universitet, Karlstad, 13:30 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2018-05-17 Created: 2018-04-24 Last updated: 2018-06-04Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text in DiVA

Other links

Publisher's full text

Authority records BETA

Thörne, KarinGericke, Niklas

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Thörne, KarinGericke, Niklas
By organisation
Department of Environmental and Life Sciences
In the same journal
Research in science education
DidacticsBiological Sciences

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar

doi
urn-nbn

Altmetric score

doi
urn-nbn
Total: 251 hits
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf